by Faye Sakellaridis
There's an impressive array of natural, sumptuous aromas out there in the world of herbs. Hydrosols are a great way to capture the fragrant essence of your favorite botanical -- in fact, many distillers refer to hydrosols as the blueprint of the actual plant since they carry each micronutrient that the plant itself carries. Hydrosols are made by steam distilling plant materials, and can be used in food or drink, as well as cosmetically.
This blog via Anya Garden's explains what makes hydrosols distinct:
When you boil a botanical, whether it’s a rose or oolong tea, you are making an infusion. All of the properties of the botanical are being drawn out into the hot water, and you can drink it ‘as is’. When you make a hydrosol, many of the chemical properties of the botanical are left in the water in the bottom of the pot, as in making tea. It’s the volatile, scented properties of the botanical that rise with the steam, condense on the iced top of the container (more about that below) and drip down into a container that will collect the hydrosol.
Hydrosol is much more concentrated than the tea, and should always be diluted before using it in food or drink. However, if you’re like me, you make it mostly for spraying on the body or hair, or for splashing on the face, like a toner.
Why Make Hydrosols?
Why hydrosol? Besides the health benefits of using a botanical with beneficial chemical components, maybe I just want to capture the ethereal citrusy scent of a rare lemongrass (C. flexuosus) from my garden. It’s sweeter and lighter than the bulbous “regular” lemongrass we all know from Asian recipes, and I find it very refreshing. Maybe I only have a few dozen golden campaca flowers, or a few handfuls of ylang ylang, in all their rare and glorious sensual beauty. Let’s not forget the lemon leaves, rosemary, lime leaves, patchouli, pineapple sage and other fragrant beauties I have in my garden — the list is long, and I love them all!
If you're serious about making your own herbal perfumes, read the full blog to learn more.
If you want to reap the benefits of hydrosols but aren't feeling the idea of making your own, we suggest Wildcare Botanical Hydrosols, a line of amazing hydrosols that we carry at The Alchemist's Kitchen. Wildcare Botanical Hydrosols are made using hand collected spring water, combined with ethically wildcrafted and organically grown plant material, and distilled in traditional copper alembic still.